Time magazine is stealing a march on its rivals. Starting next year, it will begin publishing on Fridays – three days earlier than usual. Traditionally, American news magazines have come out on Mondays. Now, most Time subscribers will receive their copies of the magazine on Saturday.
Why the change? A spokesman insisted it was not to get a jump on the other news mags – but to make Time into what he described as "a 24-hour news experience". In other words, round-the-clock journalism.
One of the problems of publishing on Mondays has always been that news mags have had to keep staff working all weekend – especially when big news breaks. That has always meant lots of overtime and in the case of Time mag it meant, for years, keeping an all-night buffet open for the late workers.
However, that's not the reason for the change, says Time's new managing editor Richard Stengel, who was appointed in June. "We are working to keep Time as relevant in the 21st century as it was in the 20th," he said. What he didn't say – or forgot – was that back in 1923 when Henry Luce launched Time it was published on Fridays!
Of course, there is another reason for the switch. At the end of last year, newsstand sales of Time were down 16 per cent to 145,000. Total circulation also flattened out to around 4 million. Hitting the newsstands before its rivals could help Time put on more over-the-counter sales.
Also the switch, it's claimed, will give advertisers a chance to reach readers before the weekend, when they do most of their shopping.
Will the other American news mags follow suit? So far, there has been no comment from Newsweek, US News and World Report or any of the other Time mag rivals.